Archive | November, 2018

How to Track Your Successes (and Failures)

November 15, 2018


Like most people, you likely started the new year with lofty goals in which you may or may not be still pursuing. It’s easy to let our big plans and ambitions fall to the wayside. But there is one hack for staying on track: record the progress we are making. There are tons of apps and websites out there than can help you observe and assess your very own data. Your efforts will be staring right back at you. Let’s be honest–whether it reveals a failure or a success, it will be motivating!

Goodreads: We’ve touted the benefits of reading many times, and it’s a common goal on many people’s list of personal improvements. Keep track of how many books you’ve read this year, and what books you want to read next with Goodreads. Set a reading goal for the year and check your progress as you go.

RescueTime: If you’re focused on changing your habits and improving your focus while sitting at your computer, RescueTime can give you a report on how you spend your time. Want to write a novel? How much time did you actually spend on Microsoft Word? And how much time did you spend on Facebook instead? The data can be incredibly motivating.

Toggl: For those who want to track their entire day and see how they spend their time, Toggl lets you manually do so. Choose whether you want to track everything or just a few important goals. Again, the reports will be telling and can encourage you to be more intentional about how you spend your time.

Image designed with Canva.

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5 Ways to Make Your Meetings More Engaging

November 13, 2018


In many corporate environments, the Powerpoint presentation is put on a pedestal. Someone may spend hours or even days perfecting slides for an upcoming meeting. But according to one company, the most productive meetings don’t have slide decks.

The thought process is that slide-run meetings become too much like a college-style lecture. The presenter holds all the power, and the coworkers diligently listen. That makes it harder for the audience to chime in and for everyone to have a true back-and-forth conversation. Slides also feel permanent, like the ideas stated on them can’t evolve.

Whether you agree or don’t agree with this concept, here are a few ways to make your meetings more engaging.

  1. Fill up that whiteboard. Ideas can be easily added and erased, and a marker can be placed in anyone’s hand. Ideas can flow more freely and can constantly evolve throughout the meeting.
  2. Write up a brief. Summarize the problem, goals, and potential solutions then pass it out before the meeting begins, or give people five minutes to assess and take notes at the start of the meeting. Kick off the conversation by asking for feedback.
  3. Go around the circle. Instead of letting people chime in willy nilly, make the conversation more accessible for those who may be too shy to speak up. Everyone gets a chance to share their opinions and views.
  4. Set a time limit. Time limits can be motivating and can excite participants to chime in quickly, but get their point across briefly.
  5. Get outside. Break out of the meeting room and head for a picnic table outside. Or, make it a walking meeting and have an authentic and thoughtful conversation.

Image via Lance Nishihira/Flickr.  

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3 More Ways to Stay Positive in Work and Life

November 8, 2018


Let’s face it: everyone is busy, especially during fall when commitments surrounding the new school year as well as an onslaught of holiday planning can become incredibly overwhelming. You’re constantly wondering, Where did summer go?! It’s a rude awakening after a too-short break. If you’re feeling a little run down already, these tips can help you power through a long work week followed by an action-packed weekend.

  1. Think of the big picture.
    Don’t let the little details bog you down. Little frustrations, negative feedback, and unexpected challenges can easily dampen your spirit on a daily basis. Keep the end game in mind or remember how small this bump is in the road.
  2. Perfect your daily routine.
    Every day should be filled with a nice mix of friends, family, and you time as well as work and play. Find the perfect mix for you. Develop a schedule that meets your needs and your goals. Easier said than done, but worth a concerted effort!
  3. Utilize your strengths.
    Ideally, your current position would put your best talents to good work. If it doesn’t, offer to take on a project that does. Or find other ways throughout the day to utilize your strengths. When we do good work, we feel accomplished, we get great feedback, and it can improve our mood.

Image via Simon Varwell/Flickr.

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Would You Hold a Silent Meeting?

November 6, 2018


New trend alert: silent meetings. Say, what? Well, say nothing. Silent meetings are group gatherings (they can be in person or virtual) where everyone silently works at the same time. Jeff Bezos of Amazon fame is said to be the originator of the silent meeting. The idea behind silent meetings is that they are more effective, productive, and democratic. Typing is involved, so while the meeting is “silent” it isn’t without discussion.

There are a lot of different ways a silent meeting can work:

  • Together, We Can: Think of it like a sprint work session. Perhaps you’re all working toward the same goal or all working on the same project at the same time.
  • Start Quiet: The first 30 minutes are spent reviewing a detailed memo and taking notes. The next 30 minutes are spent in discussion, which should be more focused and thought-out.
  • Silently Share: Give access to a shared Google Doc for a certain time period. During that time, anyone has a chance to express their opinion in writing without worries of not being heard or being talked over.
  • Group Chat: Use a messaging program like Slack and the text-only conversation will also double as meeting minutes.

How else do you envision a silent meeting?

Image via Pete/Flickr. 


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How to Write More Effective Emails

November 1, 2018


You know what I’m talking about: the extra-long email chain with various people CC’d throughout sporadically, chiming in on different conversations, sharing random important details. And you’re all expected to piece together the crucial parts and make sense of it all. It doesn’t seem like the most effective way to use anyone’s time, or the most reliable way to share information.

Unfortunately, email overload and messy email chains are a reality we often face today. However, there are a few small steps you can take to write more effective emails. Perhaps the next email you send will start a more organized and thoughtful chain. It’s possible!

  1. Embrace brevity. 
    “TL;DR” is internet slang for “too long; didn’t read.” Often at the end of a long article or message board post, the writer will add a “TL;DR” summary that states exactly what they wanted to say but in a much more brief one sentence structure. Write every email as if it was a “TL;DR” summary. Emails aren’t novels. You can always explain more in person or over the phone if need be.
  2. Use bold to your advantage.
    Don’t be afraid to bold certain words, phrases, names, or dates to ensure special attention is given to those pieces of information. Make the email as easy to read as possible.
  3. Bullets and numbers are your friends.
    Could this information be better conveyed in an easy-to-read list? Again, make the information as succinct and comprehensible as possible.
  4. Make a decision and stick to it.
    Instead of ruminating over an issue and documenting your entire thought process in the email then cc’ing someone else for a second opinion, commit yourself to a decision. Embrace your own smarts and skills and feel confident in your decision-making abilities.

Image via Sue/Flickr.

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